Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things 8 & 9: Photo Sharing, Customizing Blogs

We're halfway through the program! Give yourself a pat on the back and a big high-five for making it this far. You'll now have over two weeks before Things 10 and 11 are posted, so hopefully you can catch up and catch your breath (I know I will- I've been trying to keep at least one step ahead)! I've already been hearing some great things that people have been doing with some of these tools- keep it up and spread the Word! One of the goals for this program is to extend the skills and knowledge of our faculty and staff, so those of us in the program can pass along some of these Web 2.0 tools to our colleagues.

Thing 8: Photo Sharing

You may already have an account with an online photo sharing site, or perhaps you've had friends or family send you a link to their online albums (I subject my nearest and dearest to monthly updates). Photo sharing sites have progressed beyond being warehouses for photos, however: many let you edit, crop, organize, share, add comments, tag, create photo groups, and even apply cool effects to individual photos. We're going to be exploring Flickr, which is one of the most innovative photo sites around. You'll be creating a Flickr account, uploading some photos to it, tagging those photos, and then posting a slideshow to your blog (Customizing Blogs is Thing 9). "She's crazy!", you might be saying. But I'm not, trust me. You can do it! I chose this Photo Sharing Thing to occur right before the break so you'll have time to take some pictures you'd like to share with us (and borrow a camera, if necessary). If you don't have access to a digital camera, you can talk to the AV department here and request to borrow one over the break.

Your goal for Thing 8 is to create a Flickr account and upload at least THREE photos, one of which should be a picture of you doing something related to teaching/technology/reading/chewing- something specific to this program, basically. The other 2+ photos can be of anything, but ideally would be taken specifically to share with the group. You should then TAG the photos with keywords and tag at least ONE of the photos with the keyword "17 Things" (to use a two-word tag you have to put the phrase in quotes). Make these photos PUBLIC (you have to check a box making them public), so that we can search for them on Flickr. You should then write a blog post about your experience with Flickr and make sure to include your Flickr name so we can find your pictures.

Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Flickr Tour
  • Flickr FAQs
  • "Classroom" groups on Flickr (school-related photo groups that have been created by teachers)
  • The App Garden (these are cool apps that Flickr users have created- there's one called FlickrPoet where you paste in the text of a poem, and Flickr pictures are matched to the text- so your poem becomes a poem in photos)
  • BigHugeLabs (lets you do fun things with your photos like make them into movie posters, photo booth pictures, add comic book captions, etc.)

To complete Thing 8:

  • Create a Flickr account
  • Take and upload at least 3 pictures, one of which should have something to do with the 17 Things program
  • Tag your pictures, and make sure at least one picture is tagged "17 Things"
  • Make your photos public
  • Write a blog post about your experience
  • Post your Flickr account name
  • Search for and check out other participants' photos on Flickr! My Flickr name is "mrsduelllibrary", and you can see my first few pictures in the "Slideshow" feature on the sidebar of my blog.

Just for fun (optional): Create something fun using one of the Flickr third party applications or mashups and include the results in your photo stream or post into your Thing 8 blog post.

Thing 9: Customizing Blogs

One of my favorite things to do with my blogs is to add little gadgets and widgets to my sidebar, which gives your blog a more personalized feel. Your task for Thing 9 is to customize your blog by adding at least THREE gadgets or widgets to your sidebar. These can be found in the "Layout" tab at the top of your blog editing screen. Just click "Add a Gadget" in the sidebar, and choose a few things from the list of choices. One of the gadgets you choose should be a SLIDESHOW, which will then let you link to your Flickr photostream, displaying a running slideshow of the photos you uploaded in Thing 8. So cool. Other gadgets you can choose to add include a poll, a video, some HTML/JavaScript, a list of your favorite links, or even just some text.

To complete Thing 9:

  • Add at least THREE gadgets to the sidebar of your blog
  • One of the gadgets must be a SLIDESHOW that links to your Flickr photostream

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great PowerPoint Video

I'm just posting this video because it's awesome. I've been looking for a good, short, student-friendly video about how to avoid creating BAD PowerPoint presentations, so I think I'm going to show this to the freshman classes with whom I'm currently working on a Big6 research project (their final product is a group PowerPoint presentation, although I'm going to encourage them to try Web 2.0 tools or Google Show as alternatives). I think this video really gets across some of the things you've got to watch out for when creating PowerPoint presentations.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Things 6 & 7: Creating Websites, RSS Feeds and News Readers

We've just about made it 1/3 of the way! Yahoo. Congratulate yourself on coming this far. Now let's keep going! We'll be learning how to create your very own website using either or, and then you'll learn how RSS feeds and News Readers can help you stay up-to-date with your favorite websites, blogs and online newspapers.

Thing 6: Creating Websites

Having a website of your very own used to be the stuff of dreams, but now it's become a reality. Creating a multi-paged website used to require familiarity with Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage, in addition to having an FTP program to upload HTML files, plus purchasing a domain name and server space. Have I lost you? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Who cares! It doesn't matter anymore, because all you need now is access to the Internet and some content you'd like on the web. You don't even need to be creative because these tools do the design for you! Ahh, web design for the armchair techie. You'll have the choice of using two different website creation tools: Weebly or Yola.

Watch the following video, which describes how to use (and why, as a teacher, you might want to have a website):

You can use websites to do so many different things. Check out Christine Stiel's Creative Writing class website, created using See how she has created multiple pages for each project? Or you could have each page be a separate class. You could even have students create websites as a culminating project. Here and here are examples of final products created by my husband's social studies classes (password: mcculture).

To complete this Thing, you will choose either Weebly or Yola, sign up for an account, and create a multi-paged website. It can be simple, without a lot of content, but it should at least have a structure. It can be professional or personal. Once you've published your site, post the link to your new website in your Thing 6 blog post.

To complete Thing 6:
  • Create a MULTI-PAGED website using Weebly or Yola
  • Write a blog post reflecting on your experience creating your website. Was it easy? Difficult? Will you actually use this website, or will you create another? How could you incorporate website creation into your professional or personal life?
  • Post the URL (web address) of your new website

Thing 7: RSS Feeds & News Readers
There are a lot of websites out there, and most of us have certain websites that we check regularly. Now that we are all "following" different colleagues' blogs, we have even more websites to check. What if you could check for updates of all your favorite blogs, online newspapers and other regularly-updated sites by visiting one simple page? That's the beauty of RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication. You may have noticed that some of your favorite websites have little orange icons that look like this:

This orange RSS icon lets you know that you can subscribe to the website using a news reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines. You simply have to create an account with one of these news readers and then start adding websites that have RSS feeds. Watch this Common Craft video to learn more about RSS feeds and Google Reader:

Your job for Thing 7 is to sign up for either a Google Reader or Bloglines account, add the blogs of the colleagues you're following, plus at least 3 other blogs, online newspapers, or websites to your reader. Chances are, some of the websites you already visit a lot have RSS feeds available! Post about your experiences with Google Reader or Bloglines, if you think you would use it, and how you could use it professionally.

Here are some education-related sites with RSS feeds to get you started:

And here are some award-winning blogs from people in the field:

So, to complete Thing 7:

  • Sign up for Google Reader or Bloglines
  • Add the blogs of the colleagues you're following to your new reader account
  • Add at least 3 other blogs, online newspapers, or websites
  • Write a post reflecting on your experience with RSS feeds and news readers